One of the great things about New York is that it encourages adventurous eating and expansive palates. Sometimes it spurs you to take your bagel in bite form, with the toppings hidden on the inside. Other times it’s enticing you with fried chicken, plus a side helping of cat videos and graffiti. But most of the time you’ll find yourself circling back to pizza, which is why you head to Emily, Brooklyn’s new ode to sauce and dough.
Helmed by husband-and-wife team Matthew and Emily Hyland, who helped launch Brooklyn Central, Emily came to fruition after a year and a half of location scouting. The Brooklyn-based couple eventually settled on Clinton Hill, near other local favorites such as speakeasy Hanson Dry and Brooklyn Victory Garden.“It seemed like this little stretch of Fulton Street we’re on really has potential,” says Emily. “We just really see it blossoming over the next few years.”
Creating the cozy space’s welcoming vibe was the next no-brainer, with Mrs. Hyland outfitting the interior the same way she would her own living space. “The way we designed the restaurant—the menu, the décor, everything—was just really coming from our hearts and into a place that feels like home,” she says. “We want people to just feel comfortable.” This includes touches such as polished wooden tables, fresh flowers, and a wall installation of hanging wire bicycles.
Markedly different from anything you’ll find in your home is what’s coming out of the kitchen and its custom Pavesi copper-plated pizza oven. Matt elevates a New York staple by making everything from the dough to the sauce to the cheese fresh daily. “Matt really does try to make really high quality food with genuine care,” says Emily. “The food is really standing up for itself.”
And while you can stick to safe bets such as a basil and mozzarella pie or pepperoni with sausage and prosciutto, your adventurous New York palate is best rewarded when straying from the tried and true. Offbeat offerings include the cheese curd–topped Camp Randall and the namesake pizza (a combination of pistachios, truffle sottocenere, and honey), which is quickly becoming a favorite. And while unexpected, none of the combinations are truly random.
“Matt just likes to be really creative with his food in general and to explore in the kitchen, so he was doing a lot of research and feeling out combinations he had seen or enjoyed at random places we’ve been throughout the country,” says Emily. “It’s really informal, based on the types of things he likes to work with and then going from there.” Never ones to keep things static, there are also plans to change up the menu every few months, based on the customer response and the other successful concoctions the kitchen staff can dream up.
Another unique offering? Pizza making workshops, held the first Tuesday of each month. The themed classes range from February’s couples workshop to this month’s sold-out pizza and yoga combo to wine- and beer- focused events in April and June, respectively. With help from Matt, participants learn the finer points of making pizza dough from scratch, leaving the evening with dough of their own to test their new skills. “It just gives people a chance to play with the dough and learn a little more,” says Emily.
And lest you’re pizza-d out by this point (heresy!), Emily offers dishes such as kale salad with dried cherries and shaved pecorino, crispy pig ears served with winter greens, four kinds of pasta, and a dessert s’mores calzone stuffed with marshmallow and chocolate and topped with graham cracker crumbs. Or try your hand at the cocktail list, which features local spirits from the likes of Widow Jane and Greenhook Ginsmiths. It’s the fastest way to reach regular status.
“The are a lot of neighborhood folks who have been in more than once already who are really starting to make this feel like the neighborhood spot we want it to be,” says Emily. “I already know some folks by name, which is really nice, and I know their drink. It’s exactly how I want it to be.”